Sunday, August 07, 2005

Old People, Rude Dining, and Trader Joe's Amateurs

I was going to post this on my other blog, but figured the real point revolved around food related incidents. Plus, I just polished off a lovely filet (from Trader Joe's, natch) with red wine reduction, parsley, chives, onion powder (gasp!), and sea salt. So, I'm in a forgiving mood.

I spent my weekend in dark mystification at how people can be so rude. Honestly, let's call a spade a spade, the rudest people I encountered were old. Now, before you get your hackles up, let me give my disclaimer that my own father is 87 years old. However, he would never have pulled any of the stunts I saw this weekend. And, I know I'm using a goodly amount of karma by just bringing this up, but I just can't let it go unnoticed. What is it about aging that just gives people carte blanche to diss young people? (And in one case, a single young woman.)

So, Friday evening, I arrive at the front door of one of the best restaurants in town. I am dressed in cocktail attire and high heels. I walk up to the door directly behind a man -- probably in his late 60s or early 70s (and later identified as wearing a really awful toupee) and his nice looking, country-club set wife. Instead of holding the door for both his wife and me (both of us entering at the same time), he enters in front of me, but hands me the door. OK, I can live with this. But as we enter the second door in the vestibule, he doesn't even look behind or acknowledge me. He just drops the door on me. It was impossible that he didn't know I was there as he looked at me just three steps before. Very rude. I wrestled the door open on my own (teetering on very high heels) as he and the wife beat it to the hostess stand. Oh, come on, cool it, you have a reservation.

Fast forward 18 hours to encounter number two. This one steamed me since I really try to avoid Trader Joe's on Saturday. Too many kids running around, people blocking aisles marveling over the 17 kinds of olives, and party givers loading their carts with cases of Three-Buck Chuck. Shudder. But, I was in the neighborhood and I needed meat. Once inside, I maneuver my cart around two elderly couples completely blocking the doors while they decide which way to go. Not such a problem, I'm nimble, I'm quick. I avoid the cheese, take a detour past deserts, and navigate around four children with their mini-carts unattended. Aha! They have the lamb shoulder I like in stock! I wedge my way to the meat section which is completely blocked by two -- I'll just say it, *rude* -- older ladies. They are picking through and marveling at the lamb chops. I try to move in. They block the bin. I try the reach around. They move, block it again, and begin discussing the chocolate covered cashews above the meat rack. Again, I try to reach through and finally make it to the beef filets. I grab the one I can reach. At this point, I'm just about ready to say "excuse me" out loud because my unspoken "I-need-to-reach-the-meat" isn't working. But these two are oblivious. Finally, after several attempts -- and acrobatic reaches -- to get over the lamb chops to the shoulder bin I take the filet in my hand and *throw* it back in the bin. They don't even look. A large piece of frozen meat lands hard right in front of them and they're discussing the finer points of horseradish. Hey, lady, it's an equal opportunity meat pawing bin. Move it or lose it!

I almost left the store right then, but relented and picked through the filets again when they were gone. But still, it left me marveling at the rudeness. Do some older people just see "young person" and assume you're up-to-no-good or similar? Sure, I could have just been more assertive, but we all live in this world moving about to unknown and unspoken signals. What short circuits as you age? (Besides, for those of you who know me, you know I have no problems being assertive when called for.) My own father is polite to a fault -- still holding doors and being very aware of surroundings. Maybe I just hit a bad run, but I swear, if I run into that guy in the bad rug again, I'm saying something!

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